--- In [EMAIL PROTECTED], "octavian_ciutacu"

Dragii mei,

Am citit astazi in Toronto Star de o fata care a fost adoptata la 9
ani din Romania de o familie canadiana dar a trebuit sa fIe re-trimisa
inapoi in tara. Fata acum are 22 de ani dar statul roman i-a retras
cetatenia romana dar fara acordul ei cind ea a fost adoptata de
familia canadiana. Cititi mai jos articolul si haideti sa facem o
scrisoare ministerelor abilitate ca aceasta persoana sa-si recapete
cetatenia romana. Este o rusine ca un roman nascut in Romania sa i se
retraga cetatenia fara acordul lui/ei. Aici este articolul. O sa dea
la CBC un reportaj despre fata asta. 

Cu bine Octavian 


Feb. 12, 2005. 08:36 AM 
Alexandra Austin, who is now 22, was adopted by an Ontario couple 
when she was nine but later put back on a plane to Romania. 
Return to sender: An orphan's tale
Crises spur families to open homes

But not all are ready for challenge


The sight of a sobbing orphan stranded in a landscape of death and 
disaster moves people deeply. With each new tragedy, well-to-do 
Westerners search their souls about how to rescue needy children, 
and the adoption agency phones work overtime.

The recent Asian tsunami was a case in point. In many Western 
countries, would-be parents have set off for the stricken region in 
the hope of bringing home a child. In Ontario, the government waived 
its adoption fee, and Ottawa promised to expedite the immigration 
process for children whose relatives in Canada wanted to adopt them.

Many foreign adoptions are a source of joy for parents and children. 
But what happens when adoption goes badly wrong?

In the early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 
collapse of communism, images of emaciated Romanian children, and 
other East European orphans, evoked enormous response from emotional 
audiences in North America. 

But, says filmmaker Mary Anne Alton, "there were some serious 
mistakes made because people reacted without thinking of the 
problems they'd face. Children are very vulnerable, especially in 
turbulent regions. But they may be damaged, too, and they may not be 
what the adoptive parents are expecting."

Alton's film, Return to Sender, will be shown Monday on CBC's The 
Passionate Eye. It tells the extraordinary story of Alexandra 
Austin, a 22-year-old Romanian woman adopted at age 9 by well-to-do 
Ontarians, and five months later put back on the plane to Romania.

"One day (my) adoptive mother was very upset, and said, `You're 
going to Romania,'" Alexandra told Alton. "I said, `I don't 
understand' ... and in a couple of days, they put me on the airplane 
like a packet and sent me back."

The child's confusion soon turned to anguish. On return she was cast 
off by her native country, which considered her a Canadian citizen, 
although Canada had never granted her citizenship. Denied the right 
to education, health care or the use of her original name in 
Romania, Austin has lived a blighted life as a non-person, the 
victim of identity theft for which no one claims responsibility.

Now a young mother herself, unemployed and with only a Grade 3 
education, she wonders bitterly why her onetime Canadian parents 
wanted to take her from her impoverished family.

"Alexandra dropped through the cracks," said Alton. "It's as though 
she fell into the Atlantic Ocean after she boarded that plane. To 
all intents and purposes, she doesn't exist."

Austin's adoption was unusual among the thousands of foreign 
adoptions that occur each year in Canada, says Robin Hilborn, editor 
and publisher of Family Helper magazine, which aids adopting 

"The great majority of those adoptions are done in a normal, legal 
manner and work out very well," he says.

But he points out that, for children like Alexandra, there are still 
gaps that allow for a similar situation to happen today: "If you 
adopt, and it's legalized abroad, then the child is legally yours 
when you arrive in Canada. So there won't be any visits from social 
workers to check on how the child is adjusting."

Canadian-born adopted children are protected by provincial rules, 
which designate a six-month monitoring period by child welfare 
authorities, until the adoption is finalized. Social workers have 
been known to check even inside parents' refrigerators to make sure 
the children are properly fed. If they are abandoned, they can be 
readopted or put into foster care.

But citizenship regulations, too, allowed Austin to become 
stateless. Under current legislation, a child must be admitted to 
Canada as a "permanent resident." Parents then apply for 
citizenship  something that failed to happen when Austin was 
adopted. (A new Citizenship Act is mooted, with rules granting 
automatic citizenship to children approved in Canadian consulates 
abroad at the time of adoption. But the bill has yet to be passed by 

Under the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption, foreign 
adoptions are supposed to be investigated by the original and the 
adopting country, to make sure the children are not in danger of 
trafficking, and that it is "in the best interest of the child" to 
have a new home abroad. The birth countries sometimes request that 
children be monitored once they arrive in new homes. But in cases 
like Austin's, no Canadian authorities were asked to do so.

When young Alexandra dropped out of her Ontario school without 
explanation, said her teacher Joanne Parker, nobody thought to 
investigate. The school assumed that her parents had moved, without 
bothering to pick up her records. ``She could have just disappeared 
off the face of the earth, and no one would have questioned it," 
Parker admitted.

However, says a Toronto lawyer who reviewed her case, "Alexandra 
wasn't the only child in those circumstances. There are other 
stateless kids, and what happened to her wasn't unforeseeable in 
those days. In Europe, it's now a hot issue, and there is a great 
deal of controversy."

The early 1990s were "wild East" days in the former Soviet Union and 
East Bloc. Governments were in chaos and teetering on the edge of 
economic collapse. Bribery and corruption were rampant and 
foreigners were often able to "buy" adopted children.

Romanians were particularly hard-hit by the violent changes, because 
women had been forced to bear as many children as possible under the 
authoritarian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Few were able to support 
them, as unemployment soared and the social safety net frayed to the 
breaking point. Some mothers abandoned their children to orphanages. 
For others, foreign adoption appeared a blessing.

"Romanian women were monitored constantly to see if they were 
pregnant," explains Alton, whose award-winning documentary, titled 
Ceausescu's Kids, will air this spring on History Channel. "If they 
weren't, they were penalized with higher taxes. There was no birth 
control, and abortion was forbidden."

While filming the documentary in Bucharest, in October 2003, Alton 
heard about Austin's plight from Canadian officials. Then she met 
Irish journalist Ann McElhinney, who had taken a personal interest 
in the young woman, who was still battling for her rights after more 
than a decade. Alton met Austin through McElhinney, who later 
collaborated on the film.

"When children are adopted, we usually think of them as orphans," 
says Alton. "But in Romania that wasn't always the case. The news 
stories of those awful orphanages, with thousands of deprived 
children, got world attention. But there were also cases where 
children had parents who simply couldn't provide for them."

`Everybody responds to a needy child, but often the best thing to do 
is support children in their own countries'

Mary Anne Alton, documentary filmmaker


Austin's biological father died after a prolonged illness, and her 
mother was left with eight children. 

When Canadians asked to adopt her children, she believed they would 
have a better life. Alexandra's 2-year-old brother, Cristian, went 
to a Montreal couple who were also ready to adopt his winsome older 
sister. (Her brother remains in Montreal, and they have met once 
since the adoption.) 

But a doctor and his wife from Ancaster, Ont., were already 
negotiating for her.

In Canada, the slender, fair-haired girl settled into her new home 
and started Grade 3, struggling to learn English. Though she was 
returned to Romania before the term was over, she speaks English 
fluently, and jealously guards a bag of documents, photographs and 
letters that she collected during her brief stay, clinging to them 
as though to prove she exists.

"I feel like nobody," she says, her thin face strained.

To the Romanian authorities, she is still a non-person. On return, 
they changed her documents to declare her Canadian, erasing her 
previous identity. "This is the adoptive parents' fault, because in 
Romania Alexandra's adoption by the Canadians was never cancelled," 
said Alina Mahera, a senior lawyer with Romania's Child Protection 

Consequently, Austin has such limited education that she has been 
unable to get a job. Neither she nor her daughter  who was ill and 
undernourished  are entitled to health care or welfare benefits. 
She lives in an overcrowded house in a Bucharest suburb with her 
boyfriend, Nicu, and other relatives. The family is often hungry.

Austin was one of thousands of children adopted to Canada from 
Romania in the 1990s. Many suffered emotional and physical problems 
caused by early deprivation, leaving their new parents doubting the 
wisdom of their decision to adopt. 

Developmental psychologist Elinor Ames, a professor emeritus at 
Simon Fraser University, studied the problems of orphanage children, 
and concluded that although adoptive parents were at first concerned 
about physical problems, nearly three-quarters of them 
identified "behavioural, emotional or social problems" as the most 
troublesome, three years after the children arrived in Canada.

The children suffered from poor social interaction, learning 
problems and "insecure attachment patterns" with their new parents. 
The adoptive parents, Ames found, were often under stress and in 
need of counselling.

And, she warned, "when older children are placed, parents must be 
made aware of the greater commitment and resources that will be 
necessary to rear these children."

Many people have now forgotten the plight of the Romanian children. 
But for those who want to adopt others from disastrous situations  
such as the tsunami  the same principles apply, says Alton.

"Everybody responds to a needy child, but often the best thing to do 
is support children in their own countries," she says.

The Adoption Council of Canada agrees. "Intercountry adoption, 
particularly by non-relatives, is not the first response to help 
children," says Sandra Scarth, the group's president. "Countries 
will try to eliminate all possibility of families caring for orphans 
within their borders. Only then could Canadians apply to adopt a 
particular orphan, if the country allows it."

Tsunami orphans have sparked a variety of responses, both positive 
and negative. American evangelists have rushed in to preach and pray 
with the disaster victims. Traffickers have kidnapped vulnerable 
orphans. And hundreds, if not thousands, of sympathetic people have 
fanned out across southern Asia offering new homes to the neediest 

But while there's lots of interest from Canadians, says 
Hilborn, "Every piece of advice from every level has said: Don't do 
it. I think an adoption rush has been shut down by the right kind of 

Adopting a tsunami child, authorities say, could take up to two 
years, in cases where the adopting country allows such a move. 

Many Muslim countries do not. 

In her threadbare home in Bucharest, Alexandra Austin agrees that 
children need support at home, but not transplantation to another 

Says Austin: "We never needed to be saved.''
--- End forwarded message ---

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